Each day cannot be, and will not be full of sunshine and a cool breeze. Sometimes, even in early August, the sun won’t come out all afternoon. There’s almost always an obstacle in the way to work against and nothing is granted at zero cost. People won’t always be sincere. But it all depends on perspective. Because honestly, optimism is sometimes hard to come by.
But there’s nothing wrong with pessimism. Aggression, hypertension and feeling downtrodden are normal everyday feelings to have, too. It’s tougher for some people to change their outlook to being overly optimistic and that sentiment is throughout the nine-song COME, from Psychic Teens. Sometimes referred to as goth and noise rock, this post-punk trio is still pulling from the darkness and using layers of guitar noise to share their grim perspective of the world. And it still delivers; with even more force than on their last, TEEN.
Take the opening brawler, “NO,” and how it denies any opportunity to ready yourself for the what’s to come. Dave Cherasaro’s drum assault, paired with the song’s short and buoyant bass guitar line from Joe DeCarolis sets the stage high for an album of chaotic energy just shy of 40 minutes. Guitarist and singer, Larry Ragone’s bowing guitar noise and vocals that toe the line on talking, drawing on the late Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, come into the song suddenly and immediately breaks the skin. That moment gives “NO” all the Psychic Teens trademarks of noise, looping rhythms and threatening vocals. And the Teens’ darkness is still dominating when Ragone sings, “Just say no to love,” at the end of the song.
The following “RIP” and “H#TE” are total terrorizers, especially the later’s main riff. But “Rip” doesn’t reveal what’s new, and frankly, what’s most surprising to COME. It’s their first song to introduce vocal harmonizing. And it’s just Ragone making his own harmony by way of recording extra vocal tracks. It’s spot on; not overly “harmony-like.” It could be over-looked; but it won’t be overheard. “H#TE” gives a better perspective of Ragone’s vocal range, simply harmonizing with his own powerfully tense guitar chords. It shows great maturity of the band and that they’ve identified a point of improvement necessary of exploring. It gives COME something larger than layered fuzz and distortion with few hooks.
Then the album’s title track, “COME,” hits with Cherasaro’s knock out punches from the start. The mirage-like, disoriented verses match the lyrically-testing, “Her words the coming attraction/ For the end of the world,” journeying into what Ragone suggests will be the “End of the world,” toward the song’s close. With nearly a couple minutes to go, the trio paves everything in sight by way of pounding cymbals and guitar dissonance that pushes the volume needle into the red.
Suddenly, as if it had been built out of what was just torn down, “LESS” delivers the album’s major hook; exposing the album’s first and potentially only major single. The sequencing of “LESS” leading into “BUG,” a hyper-tense song that gradually explodes, letting what sounds like an impossible number of layers of over-driven guitar fuzz ring out. Here’s another moment of exemplary Teens brick-breaking force. Rather than letting it get repetitive throughout the album, this particular moment feels more like the point where COME reaches its climax.
This three-piece knows exactly what works for them and chose to polish it, despite its sordid outlook, instead of trying to take it in new directions, which is a positive quality to see. It’s as if these Teens are comfortable in their skin. And that musical positivity is paramount on an album where positivity is almost completely far-fetched.
COME is the featured album in this week’s edition of Unlocked. Download “Less,” the album’s highlighted single, in yesterday’s post, and check back for a music video, an interview, plus more later in the week
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